THE SHORT STORIES OF ZAKARIA TAMER
books were searched to find evidence that locusts were hopeless and doomed. Clothes were made for those who wanted to fight the locusts. And as the moon on high moved across the sky, anti-locust slogans were written in chalk on the walls of buildings.
An assembly was convened and most of the people of the city attended. Long-tongued orators spoke, and from their mouths came swirling floods of words. They cursed the locusts saying: “Locusts are puny! Locusts are disgusting!”
The citizens exploded in applause when they saw that a man, famous for his eloquence, was going to speak. With poise, with gravitas he spoke, declaring: “If we want victory over the locusts, then we must first know why the locusts are coming to our city.” Shouts of agreement and wonder roared, and all the people started clamoring to offer their opinions.
The people split into two parties: one party said that the locusts were coming to the city because the people had done something deserving punishment, and the other party said that the wind carried the locusts wherever they wanted.
The locusts arrived while the people of the city were absorbed in this controversy, while each party was trying to prove, by different means, the truth of its opinion.
The locusts occupied the city. They did not leave until after they had eaten the grass, the wheat stalks, and the leaves of the trees. The color green was gone. When the people of the city realized the desolation and misfortune that had come to pass, they were only a little sad. At the same time, they were both happy and proud because they had finally come to agree: the locusts came to the city because the people had done something deserving of punishment, and the locusts used the wind for transportation.
After a short while, the people of the city had no food to eat. Their bodies became skinny and sick. But even though death came looming, they still talked and talked with heads held high.
168 BANIPAL 53 – SUMMER 2015